If the larger public could have seen the two Melbourne sides play on Friday night, football would become a mainstream sport in this country in no time at all.
Incidentally, if I heard the commentators use the word ‘derby’ one more time, my nausea would manifest and I’d be reaching for the bucket to save the mess.
But, ironically, I use a cliché myself: football was the winner on the night. That game was, and is, exactly what we need for the growth of the local league in Australia.
The quality of play was good and engaging. But the crucial factor was that a crowd turned out; a full large capacity stadium for a local game, with no vacant seats, and genuine atmosphere.
We usually expect this from overseas, but here it was, the real thing, large and loud. Even a few flares showed up, all from within our own fatal shore.
The existing attitude towards football in Australia is a huge barrier to the acceptance of the game here. Just the other night a friend commented: “The A-League, the most boring thing in the world”.
He has never seen a game at all, save a few snippets on the news, yet felt quite confident his statement would go down well. Most people like this have the same opinion.
I felt compelled to argue, and did, but I didn’t really have any evidence to show.
It reminded me of when I represented myself in court once. My opposition, a bulbous red nose under a wig – a barrister or something – pulled into court with a pile of documents six feet high on a removal trolley, peddled by some young eager law boy.
They had all the evidence in that tower, all indexed with hundreds of flourescent little tags sticking out.
I had a shirt with a button missing, a jacket with fur around the edges, and a coffee stained manila folder with one piece of paper and a few stray dog hairs inside. He foamed at the mouth as he presented Your Honour with all his research.
I gave him an A+ for effort.
Funnily enough, the outcome of that fiasco was better than my defense of local football.
I assured my opponent it’s because of empty stadiums that it appears dull. But I had no smoking gun, no evidence to the contrary, until now. ‘The local derby’ (that’s it, where’s that bucket) provided what I needed, a true spectacle of world class.
If this was more the norm, the public would not be able to resist such entertainment and, if then made aware of it, they may lower their psychological barrier and give the game an Aussie ‘fair go’.
The FFA has been widely criticised but you have to admit they’ve done something right here.
Keep it up and I may be able to employ a boy to wheel my own trolley of evidence about, and maybe get me one of those wigs and a fine scotch addiction to match my arrogance as I confidently show the judge how engaging the local football product can be in Australia.